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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, June 19) – The first diplomatic mission the Solomon Islands will build and own overseas is getting closer to construction.

The multi-million dollar Port Moresby High Commission project is making significant headway this week with a site visit by Architectural and Building Services director Alick Ha’pio.

Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea Bernard Bata’nisia said the visit is a major step forward for the project, which he describes as "historic."

The Government has already acquired the land at Waigani and it has recently been given the title.

The Papua New Guinea Government initially allocated PGK2.4 million [US$825,000] three years ago to help.

High Commissioner Bata’nesia could not reveal the exact amount of money needed to complete the High Commission but said it would be substantial.

Mr Bata’nesia said Mr Ha’pio should give more details to the Government after his visit of the date for work to begin and the likely cost.

Soon the Government will put out public notices inviting tenders to design the building and then contractors will be decided.

"I’m confident that the project will go ahead later this year or early next year," Mr Bata’nesia said.

Mr Bata’nesia said he hopes to be working in his new office by next year.

Currently, the high commission operates from rented premises in Port Moresby.

It came under international scrutiny when Australian lawyer Julian Moti holed up in the Chancery before he escaped on a clandestine trip to Munda in October last year.

Solomon Star understands that the Australian Government has also given land for the Government to build its High Commission in Canberra.

It is near Fiji’s High Commission.

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